Defective sex toys get a second chance as trendy shoes

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NEW YORK — Sex toys and shoes? Try sex toys in shoes.

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A small streetwear label has partnered with a giant in the adult toy industry to create a shoe derived in part from unused, defective toys that roll off the production line as misfits.

Looking a lot like Merrell’s popular Hydro Moc or Yeezy’s Foam Runners, the Plastic Soul is about 15% sex toy. The rest is non-bleach EVA, a petroleum-based foam that is difficult to recycle.

The shoe is the brainchild of David Teitelbaum, founder of Rose in Good Faith, and Chad Braverman, COO of Doc Johnson, the adult toy company founded by his father in 1976.

More than two years in the making, Plastic Soul has yet to create the buzz of Yeezy or the kicks of other titans of sneaker culture. And it doesn’t quite live up to its own marketing hype as a mainstream sustainable option, but the two Los Angeles businessmen are proud nonetheless.

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“Personally, I love shoes. So it was a great product, a really interesting way to get Doc Johnson involved in something I would never have done,” Braverman said from the company’s headquarters in Los Angeles’ North Hollywood neighborhood.

Teitelbaum is the king of collaborations with Ed Hardy, Lil Peep and Juice Wrld hoodies, t-shirts and other memorabilia under his belt. Before the pandemic, he was looking for something new. He met with an adult film company that cast him as Doc Johnson.

Braverman doesn’t send many sex toys to landfills and is able to reuse some of the base material from his manufacturing waste, but he was happy to figure out what to do with the rest. He said he took on the shoe collaboration not as a garden-variety publicity stunt, but to promote sex-positivity through fashion and innovation. That’s fine with Teitelbaum.

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“About 28 percent of sales go to women,” Teitelbaum said. “We achieve an interesting narrative. I think there’s a deeper connection.”

The shoes debuted in white last month and were a no-brainer sold out phenomenon online or at several retail stores around the world. Black color is next.

Braverman and Teitelbaum ground the defects of the sex toys into millimeter cubes of thermoplastic elastomer, a mixture of rubber and plastic that lends itself to injection molding. That’s how $130 slip-on shoes are made. Teitelbaum, who designed the shoe, added a natural cork insole for extra support.

Teitelbaum plastered L.A. with cheeky ads for starters. To promote exclusivity, the two are making limited batches, but more colors are planned for release. A month after the launch, the first iteration of 1,600 pairs still hasn’t sold out.

Online feedback has been mixed, Teitelbaum said.

“A lot of it was, ‘You look like Yeezy, go (expletive) alone,'” he said. “But we also get so much love.”

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